On a trial basis, regular meetings of West Vancouver council will begin at 5 pm rather than 6 pm in October. Council also plans to hold public hearings on a separate night.
The council meeting for October 21 has also been moved to October 28 to accommodate the federal elections. On October 28, the council will also consider revisions to the procedure bylaw to improve the overall flow of meetings.
The change in time on a trial basis comes after some council meetings in the summer lasted well over six hours. One council meeting in June even extended to 12:45 am.
“If you’ve attended a council meeting this year, you’ve probably noticed that many of our meetings have gone beyond our proposed adjournment time of 10 pm. It is important that everyone has an opportunity to provide input and we acknowledge that many are unable to stay that late,” said Mayor Mary-Ann Booth.
The motion to change the meeting time was brought forward by Councillor Sharon Thompson, who said it was worth the try to see how the public responded to the change.
The change was supported by Councillor Nora Gambioli, who said it was not just people with 9 to 5 jobs who come to the council meeting. “I want to hear from youth who might have to go home and do homework and be in bed by 9 pm. I want to hear from seniors who want to go home by 8 pm and people who have babies and want to put them in bed by 7 pm. It is much worse to have people here at 10:30 pm who have been waiting here for several hours.”
Councillor Bill Soprovich, however, wasn’t very supportive, who suggested the council met for more than two times so the workload can be divided. “I have been through this for 22 years, and we did meetings well past 12 and we now have it easy with just two meetings,” he said.
Speaking at the council meeting on September 9, council watcher Nigel Malkin said a vast number of residents had jobs that end at 5 pm. “Moving the meetings to 5 pm is not fitting with how openness and transparency work in democracy,” he said.
Former councillor Carolanne Reynolds said the intention behind the change was appreciated, but she reminded the council that meetings used to start at 7 pm. “It is unbelievable that the meetings would start at 5 pm when we know that most people don’t work in West Vancouver and for them to have to get back and have time to have something to eat…unless you want to have a buffet up here in the lobby.”
She suggested that the council start meetings at 6:30 pm and perhaps include another Monday meeting in the monthly schedule. “Everyone in the community has said that 5 pm is too early,” she said.